PORTSMOUTH — When the Portsmouth 9-10 Little League All Star team beat Cranston West to win the state championship July 28, team manager Bob Yates thought his season was over.
Little did he know that the win qualified his team for the New England regional tournament, which began Saturday.
“I didn’t think I’d be coaching into August,” joked Mr. Yates, who acknowledged he wasn’t even aware there was a regional tournament for 9- to 10-year-olds.
Representing Rhode Island, the team got off to a strong start Saturday night, beating Massachusetts 10-3 in Cranston.
The team lost to Vermont Monday, 13-9. It plays Maine tonight and New Hampshire Thursday, Aug. 8 (both games start at 7:30 p.m.) If the team ends up with a 3-1 record in pool play, it could advance to the regional championship game Friday, Aug. 9.
Saturday’s game, which pitted Portsmouth against Massachusetts state champions North Andover West, started after a 20-minute rain delay. It was yet another come-from-behind victory for Portsmouth, which fell behind early on, 3-1. The team tied it up in the bottom of the fourth inning and started piling on the runs.
“Justin Parsons was our winning pitcher and Brewster Mott had the save,” said Mr. Yates. “The hitting stars were Tim McGuire, who had four hits — three doubles for four RBIs. He’s on fire.”
In addition, Connor Freitas got two hits and an RBI and Mott had two hits. Will Pierce and Freitas pitched in relief.
On Monday, Portsmouth scored four runs in the first inning but couldn’t keep Vermont off the base paths. The team rested its best pitchers so they’d be strong for the last two games, Mr. Yates said. “We feel pretty confident with our pitching,” he said. “We’re going for those two games.”
In Monday’s loss, Tim McGuire had two doubles and two RBIs, Brewster Mott had two hits and scored twice, Connor Freitas doubled and had two RBIs, and Robbie Yates got a hit and scored twice.
Praise for hosts
The manager said he was impressed with the Sen. John Chafee Athletic Complex, where the tournament is being held.
“It’s pretty cool up there. Their stadium grandstand overhangs the field,” said Mr. Yates, pointing out that some parents were right above him when he was on the field.
“They chat with your during the game. As the game goes on they’ll say, ‘Is that your best pitcher?'”
Apparently, there are no hard feelings between Portsmouth and Cranston West Little League, which utilizes the complex. The league’s 9-10 All Stars suffered a tough loss to Portsmouth in the state finals, in a matchup that featured two controversial calls that went against Cranston West.
“The Cranston West people have been absolutely awesome,” said Mr. Yates. “It’s really a nice tournament.”